Contingency Fee

Definition of Contingency Fee Agreement

According to Wikipedia, a contingency fee is this:

A method of paying a lawyer for legal representation by which, instead of an hourly or per job fee, the lawyer receives a percentage of the money her client obtains after settling or winning a case. Often contingency fee agreements award the successful lawyer between 20% and 50% of the amount recovered [read definition on wikipedia]

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Smiley Law Firm’s typical fee range: 35-40%

How Contingency Fee Agreements Work

In other words, an attorney will take your case without you being required to pay any attorney fees. And since the attorney’s payment is “contingent” upon the outcome of the case, if nothing is recovered on your behalf, you’ll never pay a dime in fees. As a result, the contingent fee has some very clear benefits:

  • Litigation can have a negative effect on your cash flow because the proceeding could cost thousands. Contingency fees do not impact your monthly income at all.
  • Since your cash flow is not impacted, you may gain leverage over the insurance company who does need to pay their attorneys and whose own cash flow may be effected. Since the litigation is costing the other party thousands, but you nothing, the other party may be more motivated to settle early. However, insurance companies do have deep pockets and the only way to combat them is the contingency fee.
  • The risk of losing in the litigation is largely passed onto your attorney. If you lose the case and are awarded nothing, it doesn’t cost you anything in attorney fees. If you win the case, you get the majority of the award.
  • Your attorney can better represent you on a contingency fee basis because the “fee” of any specific task is no longer a consideration when deciding whether to perform the task. When clients are billed for fees, its inevitable that bills will be challenged and cash crunches will arise. This affects how the attorney decides to proceed with specific motions or legal moves.
  • In many cases, contingency fees result in more aggressive litigation, which means higher settlements and more successful trials.
  • Read more here from the American Bar Association in this article on contingency fees.

If you’d like to speak with a Smiley Law Firm personal injury attorney about your case and whether a contingency fee arrangement may be right for you, schedule an initial consultation with us using the form below. While your case may be taken on contingency, we have to decide whether the case is one that is ripe for taking. There are many factors involved.

Fill out the form below to have one of our representatives give you a call to discuss your case. If you have questions please leave a comment below and we will get back to you quickly.

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